Reason for optimism No. 4: The bullpen

If you asked someone at the start of the season what the Giants’ strength is, most would say starting pitching.

And the starting pitching has been good. The ERA of Giants starters (3.43) is third best in the NL. But starting pitchers are 24-26.

So who is it that the Giants are 42-34? The answer is simple: the bullpen.

It could be argured that the Giants’ bullpen this year has been the best in baseball.

Consider the stats:

The Giants’ bullpen ERA (2.98) is third best in the majors.
The bullpen’s 18-8 record is the best in baseball, by total wins and winning percentage.
The Giants’ 25 saves is tied for best in the majors.
Their 44 holds is tied for second in the NL.
Giants relievers have allowed 25 percent of inherited runners to score, ranking third in the NL.
But then you factor in the average leverage index, a stat the measures the amount of pressure a pitcher faces, and you get a greater appreciation of the job the Giants relievers have done.

Average pressure is consider 1.000. The Giants’ ALI is an NL-best 1.136. The second-best ALI in the NL is the Cardinals’ 1.090.

So no other team has put their relievers in more tighter situations than the Giants, and yet the San Franciscio relievers have responded.

And then factor in this. If you consider that the weakest link in the bullpen this season — Dan Runzler — is no longer on the Giants roster, the remaining pitchers in the pen are even more solid.

Before being sent down to Fresno, Runzler had a team-high 6.41 ERA (14 ER in 19.2 IP).

Remove Runzler’s numbers, and the Giants’ bullpen ERA is 2.65.

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